A mentorship scheme being piloted by the HDR UK Alumni Network is matching people looking for support in launching or developing their careers with people who have the expertise and experience to help.

The first phase involves half a dozen mentors and the same number of mentees working together on everything from interview technique to research and workplace issues.

Once the pilot is complete HDR UK plans to expand the scheme – so if you are interested in getting involved you can register straight away.

Who it’s for

Mentorships can be valuable for people at every stage of their career. For students it can be invaluable having someone who fully understands what’s involved in deciding the best direction to take, how to put together a sparkling application and what it takes to excel in interviews.

Early career researchers may value support in getting their career off to a good start, developing their networks, thriving in their workplace, developing their research and thinking about their next steps.

Established researchers can benefit just as much from having someone to talk to who brings a fresh perspective to the professional challenges they face and the opportunities that are available.

In other words, mentorship can benefit everyone.

What a mentor can help with

Having a mentor means you have someone further along the career path who is independent, but who understands your situation, to talk to in confidence, about professional matters.

They can help with a whole range of issues such as:

  • Career planning
  • Professional and interpersonal skills
  • Building confidence
  • Goal setting
  • Improved self-awareness
  • Interviews and applications
  • Preparing research for publication
  • Conference presentations
  • Workplace issues and relationships
  • Building networks.

Another major benefit is that mentors and mentees have an ongoing relationship that can build over time, meaning you can have continuing support from someone who appreciates your ambitions and abilities.

“Mentorship offered through the HDR UK alumni programme empowers individuals to gain insights and navigate their path to a promising future, and helps creates the new leaders we need for the future of health data science in the UK and worldwide,” HDR UK Alumni Network joint co-ordinator, James Godwin.

About the mentors

Our mentors all have a strong background in health data science.

They are people at different career stages and work in many fields – academia, the NHS, the wider public sector or industry.

They are also from diverse backgrounds and have a wide range of personal experience that can be highly relevant to the needs of mentees.

All have undergone training to develop their skills to ensure that they can provide support and assistance by discussing your needs, listening to and understanding what you tell them and working with you to plan for a flourishing future.

“Mentors can make all the difference as you chart the way forward in your career and deal with the multitude of issues thrown up by professional life. They can provide role model, or be a source of advice, insight, guidance and information who you can rely on for independent support.” HDR UK Alumni Network joint co-ordinator, Phinehas Arkorful.

Why mentees want to get involved

“I am working towards becoming an MLOPs expert and would appreciate gaining knowledge and experience from a mentor who is already on this path.”

“To help in my career progression.”

“I am looking for advice on online assessments and interviews.”

“To learn more about industry opportunities and post-doctoral studies.”

Meet mentors and mentees

  • Sharon Ho is training to be a doctor, but a year taking an MEng at Cambridge gave her a strong interest in health data science. She is hoping that a mentor will help this to develop and grow.

    What attracted you to health data research?

    In healthcare there is a lot of data, but it’s not always used very well. It’s an area that I am very interested in.

    I’m a fourth-year medical student and last year I was intercalating, doing a master’s degree in engineering at Cambridge. There was a dinner at my college and I happened to be sitting across from Andrew Morris, the Director of HDR UK. He directed me towards the HDR UK and the Alumni Network and the things that they were doing.

    My master’s was in bio engineering and information engineering but I was very interested in data science, machine learning, and AI, because it is becoming a very big thing. You see it everywhere.

    What attracted you to the mentorship scheme?

    I want to know more about health data science, but, as a medical student it is pretty difficult to find people on the same boat, or to connect with people that are that are working in this area. By joining this scheme, I’ll be able to like to know more about this area.

    Is health data science of interest to you in career terms?

    First, I want to qualify as a doctor and then to use data science in healthcare. But I don’t yet know whether I will focus more on one or the other. But I am definitely interested in applying information engineering and medicine.

    Would it be useful if the Alumni Network was able to tell more medical students about the opportunities in health data research?

    Oh, definitely. I do think that some medical students will be interested. Every year there will be people who choose information engineering at Cambridge for their intercalation. And in other universities there will be people interested in these areas, especially those who are mathematically minded, but without knowing how to get into it.

  • Efenwengbe Aminaho has long experience as a research consultant and has recently submitted his doctoral thesis at one of Scotland’s leading universities. As someone who benefited from the HDR UK Black Internship Programme, he now wants to give something back by becoming a mentor.

    Tell us about your background

    For some years I have been a research consultant and data scientist at A-Class Academic Consults Limited and I am a doctoral candidate at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen.

    Last year I was involved with the Black Internship Programme and was working with the University of Nottingham, with the machine learning team and then the entire Digital Research Service.

    Why did you want to get involved with mentoring?

    I think it’s an opportunity for me to give something back after the learning I have had through HDR UK and the machine learning experience at the University of Nottingham.

    I have also engaged in some informal mentorship in the past. I’m passionate about teaching people, helping them develop in their different areas and career paths. I like seeing people enjoying what they do and guiding them to achieve their goals.

    What’s an example of something you can help people with?

    I got one of my postgraduate certificates in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence from the University of Texas at Austin. And also, I am good at writing up research, because I’ve been a research consultant for years. It’s something I love doing. So, I can guide people through things like preparing publishable articles and the application of artificial intelligence.

  • After completing his master’s Ghanaian Jude Agboka is hoping for a career in health data science. He hopes that the mentorship scheme will help him learn how to stand out in job interviews and provide ongoing support for his personal and professional development.

    Tell us about your interest in health data science

    I’m in the final months of my master’s in data science. I did my bachelor’s degree in in biological sciences and I used to work in a cancer research lab in Ghana. The combination of data science and biology gave me an interest in this area. And last year I took part in the Black Internship Programme, where I was working for NIHR. It gave me a bit of experience in the health sector which I enjoyed.

    What do you hope to do in future?

    In the future, I hope to delve into the health data sector, perhaps working for the NHS or possibly for a private sector business.

    How did you come across the Alumni Network?

    I found out about it when I was doing the internship and it seemed like the best way forward for me because of the programmes it runs and the chances for meeting so many other people in the field.

    How did you hear about the about the mentorship programme?  

    The Alumni Network reached out to me to let me know about it. So I took the opportunity.

    What benefits are you hoping for?

    Basically, I’m hoping for support and coaching for personal and professional development. These two go hand in hand. If I improve myself, I can improve my skills, which can help improve my opportunities.

    I particularly hope for benefits in presentation and communication skills. I feel like I need to build the soft skills that are so important in career development. And then there is interview technique. I had an interview recently which went well but afterwards I felt that my skills needed polishing so I am better at getting information across.

  • Among the mentors for the new scheme is Paige Hunter, who is ideally placed to help offer insights and guidance to people hoping to start on a career in data science. We asked her about why she got involved and what she hopes to offer.

    What attracted you to health data research?

    I was very interested in mental health, but then when I was actually doing the health data science master’s at Exeter I found myself getting interested in areas like epidemiology and understanding health risks.

    Can you tell us about your background

    After my master’s I ended up getting a role with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) as a data scientist. Currently I work in a trade team, using my data skills on projects linked to global supply chains rather than directly to health.

    How did you become involved with the HDR UK Alumni Network?

    I first found out about HDR UK when I was at Exeter. Then a member of the network reached out to me and just asked if I was interested in being part of it and in the mentoring project.

    What appealed to you about the idea?

    I’d had a mentor myself in the past and found it quite useful. And now that I’ve had data science roles, and have some understanding of them, I’d like to be able to help other people in progressing their careers.

    Also, I thought it would be good experience for me, helping to give me more of an understanding of line management.

    I’m also looking forward to finding out about other people, from all sorts of different walks of life, and about all their different journeys.

    Have you had any training for the role?

    Yes, we’ve had professional training sessions which were really valuable and gave lots of guidance on how to help people and on things like asking the right questions and being a good listener.

    Give us an example of the sort of thing you might be able to help with

    I’m a few steps further along the road than they will be, so I can hopefully give them useful insights and experience at a point where the first steps are still quite recent and fresh in my mind.

    For example, a lot of people might be looking for jobs in the public sector and I can talk to them about that. One of the big concerns people have is over interviews. A lot of public sector organisations have quite similar approaches, so I can talk to people about what to expect and about interview techniques.

Find a mentor

Whether you are a student looking to launch a career or a well-established researcher there can be major benefits in having a mentor – someone who can share their experience and insights, offer guidance and support and act as a sounding board.

Getting involved with our mentorship scheme can also be a chance to link in to national and international networks of expertise and opportunity.

Find a Mentor

If you would like an HDR UK mentor

“I'm passionate about teaching people, helping them develop in their different areas and career paths,” HDR UK Mentor, Efenwengbe Aminaho.”

Join our HDR UK mentors

We are looking for future mentors. It’s a great way to use your experience and insights to help others negotiate their way towards a successful career.

It can also bring CPD accreditation and give you valuable additional experience.

As the programme grows we will be looking for mentors at all different career stages, from the widest set of backgrounds and in every area of the field to get involved.

“The HDR UK research community is quite remarkable – with so many people of immense knowledge and experience – we want to provide more of them with the opportunity to guide the next generation of data scientists who will play such an important role in the world’s future,” Sarah Cadman, Programme Director – Capacity Building


Become a Mentor

If you would like to be an HDR UK mentor

  • Find out more about what the HDR UK Alumni Network offers here.